Chick Chat: Movies/Books We (at least) Loved

Tastes are subjective, they say (whoever they are). What movies and books have the Chicks loved that the critics hated? Read on for our picks:

Lisa Q. Mathews

Eek. My opinions may be unpopular. First, I love ridiculous movie comedies and most thrillers. I think Tommy Boy got a bad deal from critics but I’m not that wild about Elf. (I’m trying, though; each holiday season I like it better.) The Godfather (book and movie) and When Harry Met Sally? Never made it through any of them all the way through. Pulp Fiction? No thanks. Also (hands preemptively to ears) I can’t stay awake through ANY of the Jane Austen-related flicks (even ones starring Colin Firth). And I don’t care who stars in the Sherlock Holmes movies or TV shows–none of the interpretations hold a candle to Doyle’s Sherlock to me. Two for the price of one hate on both the movie and book of No Country for Old Men (though, okay, they were both effective). I also don’t care for any of the Little Women movies, which critics adore–I find them mildly creepy, for some reason. My most hated movie ever, which some critics seemed okay with? Eyes Wide Shut (mine sure were). Runner-up: Uncut Gems. But I actually liked both the book and movie of Carl Hiaasen’s Striptease (*runs to hide*).


 Ellen Byron

I have to do a 180 on this. My tastes generally line up with the critics, or at least enough so that I can’t think of a movie where we had diametrically opposing views. But I can think of two movies critics loved that I hated: Jerry Maguire and Pretty Woman. The former because the protagonist doesn’t make the final, pivotal plot choice, the football player’s wife does, but Maguire gets – and takes – all the credit for it. And Pretty Woman because I saw a wide range of prostitutes in the various New York neighborhoods where I lived and there was nothing pretty about them or their lives. (I’m not the only one who didn’t love this script being turned into a romcom. It’s common knowledge the original script was much darker with a noirish ending and the screenwriter hated Garry Marshall’s take on it.) Also on a personal note, Julia Roberts’ cackling laugh is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Oh, boy. I just dissed America’s Sweetheart, who I’ve heard from people who’ve spent time with her, is a lovely person. Sorry!!!


Vickie Fee

I have this tendency to prefer the movies by certain actors or directors that are NOT the ones the critics rave about. I saw a Tweet thread this week where nearly everyone rated Pulp Fiction as Quentin Tarantino’s best film. I actually like PF, but I think Jackie Brown, which I have watched umpteen times is head and shoulders above Pulp Fiction. Pam Grier was nominated for an Oscar for the title role — and should’ve won, IMHO. And I’m definitely out of sync with the critics on The Two Jakes. I LOVED this sequel to Chinatown, which was a critic’s darling. It was hard for me to sit all the way through Chinatown. Maybe, like Bette Davis, I’m just not a huge Faye Dunaway fan, although I did really like her in The Thomas Crown Affair with Steve McQueen. (Video of Bette Davis talking about Faye Dunaway on Johnny Carson.) 


Cynthia Kuhn

Oh my goodness, I love many movies that critics pan. It can seem, at times, like it’s a genre thing. I love Rom Coms, for example. Let’s just say that the reviews and general treatment of those tend to suggest that people may be starting out with A Certain Kind of Attitude toward them. Which is strange because love + humor are two of the most wonderful things in the world.

And I can’t think of a book right now, but in my own defense, I just had my heart broken watching the first two episodes of And Just Like That…no spoilers but How Dare You, Whoever Approved That Thing That Is Making Us All Cry?!  

ps: When Harry Met Sally is classic.


Leslie Karst

One word: Ishtar. I think this 1987 film, directed by Elaine May, is marvelous. Perhaps you’ll only fully appreciate the movie if you’ve tried your hand at songwriting (and back in the 1980s and ’90s I did quite a bit of that—see here), but as a showcase for what goes into penning a song, Ishtar is absolutely spot on—and hilarious. The relationship between Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty is poignant and sweet, and the late Charles Grodin is a gem as the CIA agent. But most of all, the songs (by the incomparable Paul Williams) are absolutely brilliant. I’d pay big money for a soundtrack, but it was alas yanked once the movie bombed. There’s an interesting piece about the film here.


Kathleen Valenti

I have an entire genre of films that I’ve titled Movies of Shame. And they live up to the reputation. Do I find myself nodding along with every turn in the Armageddon plot? Maybe. Do I secretly watch National Treasure every time it’s on (which is every time I travel)? Yes? Ish? Do I think Fletch should make AFI’s Top 100 Movies list? Absolutely. Despite what the critics say, I don’t think of them as bad movies. Perhaps just unconventionally awesome. And who couldn’t use more of that?


Becky Clark

For movies, I LOVE “Bonnie and Clyde” but at the time it came out (1967), critics could only see what they deemed the glorification of violence. The NYT said, “It is a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cutups in Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Which actually makes me laugh. I was going to tell you I stopped at a roadside attraction once to see their actual bullet-ridden car, but then I remembered, no … I had a character stop at a roadside attraction to see their actual bullet-ridden car. That research is still very fresh in my mind, even though MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM was written in 2014. (This is the bane of my husband’s existence, btw. I’m positive we did/saw/ate/traveled and have perfectly clear memories of same. But it was probably just one of my characters.)

As for books, I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I’ll pull an Ellen and tell you one the critics loved and I loathed …. Life of Pi. Do not get me started.


Jennifer Chow

Book:

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling. While NPR’s Maureen Corrigan said the novel “falls into that vast middlin’ range of fiction,” I still really enjoyed the mystery. Sure, there were some tropes, but it was a fun detecting adventure.  

Movie:

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle got nominated for multiple Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture, and even won in the Worst Remake or Sequel category. Nevertheless, I fiercely enjoyed the friendship factor among the women. And the fun fight scenes!              


Readers, drop us a note in the comments below!

43 thoughts on “Chick Chat: Movies/Books We (at least) Loved

  1. For a while in high school and college, I could read a critic’s review and tell you how much I’d like a movie. If they trashed it, it was for me. If they loved it, I stayed very far away.

    Of course, I’m the person who will list Disney movies as my favorite movies. What does that tell you? If I’m having fun, I don’t care how predictable the movie is. I’ll forgive a lot. Recently, I watched Free Guy. Was it a perfect film? No. Was it fairly predictable? Yes. Did I smile the entire way through? Just about. National Treasure is another perfect example of this. (Right there with you, Kathleen.) I love the High School Musical trilogy. And Sky High is completely predictable pre-teen Disney fun.

    Wednesday night, I watched The Joker with a couple of friends. We all three hated it despite the positive reviews and huge box office take. It was slow and depressing. It could have been half as long as still would have been bad. (Still need to write the review for publishing at some point in the future.)

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    1. Absolutely agree about Disney movies, Mark! Especially the more current ones. Even though my kids long ago flew the nest, we still go back and watch them unabashedly. Moana is one of the most gorgeous, powerful movies ever made!

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      1. The movies my boys watched over and over (and therefore I love them too): the CARS and the TOY STORY movies. They are every bit as emotionally wrenching as some serious Academy Award winners!

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    2. I LOVE Beauty and the Beast, both animated and live action. It includes one of my favorite lyrics of all time – Gaston singing “I use antlers in all of my decorating.” AND I loved the High School Musical trilogy. At one point, one of my kid’s soccer teams was called the Wildcats and I was so excited. I totally embarrassed her doing the Wildcat cheer from the movie and occasionally singing “We’re all in this together…”

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    3. I LOVED Free Guy! (But then again, I love pretty much anything with Ryan Reynolds in it.) Never saw The Joker, because the previews let me know how creepy it would be, and I don’t do creepy. Unless it’s Dracula (the book), which is creepy but so GOOD creepy!

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      1. The Joker wasn’t really that creepy. It was cringy. It was uncomfortable to watch because of the bad things happening to him and how he was reacting to it. It was a very unfortunate movie to watch.

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  2. I don’t watch many movies, but I regularly dislike books that receive high praise from critics. To be fair, a lot of these I stop reading after a few chapters. Maybe they get better. Gone Girl was one of them. I just couldn’t get into it. Thankfully there are tons of books out there that better fit my tastes, like the ones written by you all!

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  3. Favorite movies: the Karate Kid series (and I’m a huuuge fan of Netflix Cobra Kai!); Stand by Me; Moby Dick with Ricard Baseheart and Gregory Peck; anything with Bogie and especially Bogie and Bacall; Harvey; Rear Window and Hitch’s movies in general. I’m psyched about the upcoming Reacher TV series and hope it lives up to the hype. And Lisa, Jeremy Brett is ACD’s Sherlock Holmes, and the Rathbone/Bruce movies have the best original stories, although some say they’re really Solar Pons movies because of the era. I also humbly suggest you read a couple of my Sherlock Holmes stories in the MX Books of New Sherlock Holmes stories.

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  4. Like Mark, I love Sky High. It’s fun and has so much great music! I’m also a fan of Cars 2. The villain’s henchmen were Yugos and Gremlins. How can you not love jokes like that?

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  5. Okay Lisa, we may have to part ways 🙂 When Harry Met Sally is my favorite NY Eve movie. You have to make it to the end before you judge. Sheeish! And Ellen, I loved Jerry McGuire and Pretty Woman…so sorry! Though if you’re not a Julia fan, I suggest you watch her in August Osage County. She is brilliant in it (and no braying laugh).
    My fave go-to though is Overboard with Goldie and Kurt. C’mon…Arturo, Arturo and that pasta necklace.

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    1. Judy, I found myself nodding along with every word … except parting ways with Lisa because c’mon! August Osage County is a marvel on screen or on the stage. Gotta add Sleepless in Seattle to that list … it’s my all-time fave romcom.

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    2. Judy, I’m with you on When Harry, but I stand by my dislike of Jerry and Pretty Woman, lol. But I am also with you on Overboard. Goldie Hawn is SO funny in that movie. Private Benjamin, too. I miss her in that kind of comedy.

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  6. Like Mark, if critics love a movie, I’m like as not to, if not hate it, not enjoy it. And vice-versa.

    Love a good rom-com. My favorite Hanks-Ryan one is “You’ve Got Mail.” Love a good superhero flick. And yes to Disney movies.

    Right now, we are mining all the Netflix Christmas movies. Last night we saw “Christmas Chronicles 2.” Not as good as the first one, but still cute.

    Books? Oh, there I almost always depart from the critics. Life of Pi? Anything by what’s his name, the boorish guy who hates the internet? Gone Girl/Girl on the Train/etc.? Pass.

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  7. I rarely go to the movies, so I know nothing new. My favorites include (go back in time with me here, people…) On Golden Pond and a much lesser-known film called The Cure (a kid with AIDS). I love Disney/Pixar stuff. I want to see the new Clifford and I love Secret Life of Pets and of course the Harry Potters. Favorite books include The Giving Tree and I Love You Forever. I don’t follow critics. Oh, and Rent- I’m a Rent-head. LOL. I love the script, the Broadway stage show, and the movie!

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  8. I’ve never seen Frozen! Sounds like I need to correct that situation.
    Kathy, I love National Treasure, too! And I like Chevy Chase, but didn’t love Fletch. My fave Chevy Chase film is Foul Play — which is also my favorite Goldie Hawn flick!

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  9. I disliked “The Joker” immensely. My favorites are “Maltese Falcon,” and all of “The Thin Man” movies. I also dislike any of the “Little Women” movies, though I loved the book; and though I loved the Jane Austen books, I do not feel the same of the movies., I am a big fan of movies in the 1930s with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Bogie, William Powell, etc. , though I am not a Joan Crawford or Bette Davis fan. “You’ve Got Mail” is an absolute favorite as is “West Side Story.” Another book and movie that are fabulous are “Rebecca” and “Gone with the WInd,” though Scarlett made me angry. My husband never lets any of “The Godfather” movies go unwatched over and over again. He thinks that he is the neighborhood consigliere. There are so many good ones out there. My father began as a theatre usher in 1930 and then managed theatres in our hometown from the 1940s until 1962 when he became Postmaster–so I saw a lot of movies and watch TCM a lot. I could go on, but I have said enough and enjoyed the discussion.

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